For those that know sophomore Nieya Brown, they might sum her up in just one word – ambitious. Time management is the key for Nieya to get the most out of her time as a college student, and she’s confident her tactics are working. As a member of the cheer, dance and volleyball teams, as well as a sister of the Nu Gamma Xi sorority, secretary of the Student Government Association and a member of this year’s President’s Leadership Institute, Nieya says her lifestyle has always been busy, but also full of experiences, and she wouldn’t accept any less from her college selection.
Originally, Nieya, a graduate from J.W. Sexton High School, was drawn to OC as a Lansing Promise Scholar. Since 2016, The University of Olivet has partnered with the Lansing Promise Foundation to serve capitol region students with the opportunity to have an immersive, residential educational experience below the cost of tuition, room and board at Michigan State University. She also believed the location of Olivet would allow her to be near her home and family, while still experiencing the freedom and exploration of independence.
But, the transition was harder than she thought it would be. “I felt alone and I didn’t put myself out there. That changed when the sisters from Nu Gamma started inviting me to their events. They helped me open up and gave me a place that felt like home on campus,” Nieya admitted. “From there, I expanded exponentially and knew the more things I was involved in, the more opportunities I would have.”
Throughout high school, Nieya was on a variety of athletic teams, and learned she had a passion for team building and leadership that she wanted to continue to grow in college. While she has always enjoyed playing volleyball, and loves her OC team and coach, dance has always been her biggest passion. Dance is relatively new at Olivet and the team wasn’t formed until Nieya’s sophomore year, but she did have a connection to head cheer and STUNT and competitive dance coach Trish Thomas, who gave Nieya a nudge to join the cheer team her freshman year.
“I had a few different connections with Coach Thomas before I came to Olivet,” Nieya explained. “She played a big role in my choice to attend OC, and I love the support she gives me in everything I do. I joined the cheer team and focused on tumbling, and Coach Thomas helped me apply that to becoming an even stronger dancer. As soon as she told me Olivet was starting a dance team, I was really excited and knew I wanted to be a part of it.”
Coach Thomas jumped into action to recruit a dance team, even asking Nieya to serve as a captain, and just a few short months later, the team forged their way to the National Dance Association (NDA) summer camp in July, competing for a spot in the NDA Collegiate Championship. Even though it was their first time performing together, the dance team earned a bid to the national championship competition and Nieya’s standout performance placed her on the All-American roster. “If we can achieve this much in so little time, I can’t wait to see what we can do after being a team for a year,” Nieya exclaimed.
In the classroom at OC, Nieya is majoring in journalism and mass communication and has her career goals set on sports broadcasting. She was even selected for the invitation-only President’s Leadership Institute, a yearlong training program dedicated to developing top leadership in Olivet’s students, as well as enabling them to become the principal professional and community leaders of the future. The combination of it all has given Nieya everything she hoped for from college – opportunities to have fun, get involved, network and build her leadership skills, giving her a competitive edge to enter the job market in a few years with an already-overflowing resume.
“In our President’s Leadership Institute classes, President Corey encourages us to leave our comfort zone,” Nieya said. “I’ve realized that to be so true because I see how much I’ve grown in just one year at Olivet. I would encourage everyone to see what OC can offer you, because I’ve gotten everything I could have wanted and more.”